The tussle between the BJP and the Congress over appropriation of legacy of national icons has intensified. This time, over Jawaharlal Nehru.
Both the Congress and the BJP-led NDA government have laid elaborate plans to celebrate Nehru’s 125th birth anniversary. But the Congress, which invited several world leaders for seminars on Nehru, did not send any invite to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“We have not given any invitation to the PM. We have invited all those who truly believe in democracy and the ideals of Nehru,” a defiant Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said.
Ironically, the Congress highlighted BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s praise on Nehru. “We are acknowledging all those who have said something meaningful. As a political party, we have our freedom to decide who subscribes to Nehru’s views,” he added.
The latest friction comes close on the heels of the tug-of-war between the BJP-led ruling establishment and the Congress over Sardar Vallavbhai Patel’s birthday celebrations on October 31. The Congress angrily alleged that the BJP had ignored late PM Indira Gandhi’s martyrdom day.
As the PM is abroad, home minister Rajnath Singh will kick-start the 125th anniversary from Nehru’s birthday, November 14. The Congress, cautious to avoid their celebrations with the government blitzkrieg, has advanced the commencement of their celebrations by a day. The party justified the preemptive move saying it would enable the state units to undertake their own programmes on November 14.
While the Congress will focus on invoking Nehru’s legacy, the government has added its pet agenda of cleanliness to the celebrations to give its own imprint.
PM Modi, who took charge of the panel to celebrate Nehru’s birth anniversary after assuming power at the centre, wants “Bal Swachhta Mission” to be organized at schools November 14-19. He also suggested celebrating the 125th anniversary of Nehru as the “year of Bal Swachhta”.
The plan to add cleanliness mission can also give the government an edge over the Congress’ celebrations of its own icon. “The Bal Swachhta Mission would certainly add a new level of relevance to Nehru’s legacy,” said an Opposition leader.